Study evaluates parenting program

Published 10 June 2008

If you have a child aged between six and 12 years and are looking to boost your parenting skills, Southern Cross University wants to talk to you.

Erin Bailey, a PhD student with the Department of Psychology at the Coffs Harbour campus, is seeking participants for an evaluation of the parenting program ‘1-2-3 Magic’.

The program, which was originally developed in the United States, is being used throughout Australia to provide practical support and child management techniques to parents and caregivers. The program is designed for children, aged between two and 12-years-old, and is available either as a self-taught program or through a trained practitioner.

Ms Bailey said while the program was widely used both for families and in schools, there had not been any significant formal evaluation carried out.

“The program has got wide application for parents and caregivers. It is a practical skills based program that provides parents with specific techniques to manage the behaviour of their children,” Ms Bailey said.

“1-2-3 Magic provides simple techniques to stop ‘obnoxious’ behaviour, such as tantrums, arguing and fighting with siblings. There are also techniques to start ‘positive’ behaviour, such as getting a child to do their homework or to clean their room. The program is designed to enhance the parent-child relationship and to build self-esteem in children.”

Southern Cross University’s Department of Psychology was approached by an Australian provider of the program to undertake the evaluation and the project has the support of the US-based developer, Dr Thomas Phelan.

“There has only been one evaluation done in Canada. The results of that suggest that '1-2-3 Magic' was reasonably effective in reducing parents’ stress and in reducing the rate of problematic behaviour from the child,” Ms Bailey said.

“We are now looking to do a complete evaluation using parents throughout the Mid North and North Coast region.

“We are looking for parents or caregivers who have had no prior exposure to either the '1-2-3 Magic' or 'Three Choices' parenting programs. The child whose behaviour is of concern must be aged between six and 12 years and must not have been previously diagnosed with a clinical condition such as ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome.

“We’re looking for parents and caregivers who want to enhance their parenting skills, or who are currently concerned about the behaviour of their child,” she said.

Parents or caregivers eligible to participate in the research will receive access to the '1-2-3 Magic' program free of charge. Parents will be asked to twice complete a series of evaluative questionnaires over the duration of the project.

The initial evaluation will involve parents in the Coffs Harbour region, with further research being planned for the Lismore and Tweed Heads areas. The research is being supervised by Dr Anna Brooks.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Erin Bailey for an information pack on (02) 6659 3385 or email erin.bailey@scu.edu.au

Photo: Erin Bailey is conducting an evaluation of the '1-2-3 Magic' parenting program.

Media contact: Brigid Veale Southern Cross University communications manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.